Tell me what these picture looks like to you; I’m sure that the piggy and duck are crying “woe is me”.
To the Korean eye, they are smiling and laughing… The first time I ate here, the paintings had put me off and I’d ended up eating about two pieces of chicken and stuck to the cabbage and rice cake for the remainder of the meal. Fast forward two and a half years, dakgalbi is one of my favourite foods to eat in Korea and this place is the best for it: they don’t skimp on extras. Gong-Ji-Cheon 공지천 is situated in Wonju, a 1.5 hour bus ride from Seoul, opposite the Lotte Cinema building.
‘Dak’ meaning chicken and ‘galbi’ meaning ribs, is a mix of chicken (thighs, skin on), cabbage, torn perilla leaves, rice cakes and sweet potato. The magic happens when it’s all blended in a sweet, spicy red sauce and fried on a large hot plate in the centre of the table. 9,000 won a serve gets you the basic and if you’re a fan of cheese, for an extra dollar, it can be added. Sides of crisp lettuce and perilla leaves are set down along with an icy, sweet bowl of vinegar and radish water to cool the mouth once the spice kicks in.
Above is two massive servings of deliciousness and it always makes me wonder where these tiny Koreans put it. Chip away with your chopsticks or wrap it in leaves and 20 minutes later there’ll still be dakgalbi on the hot plate. Once you get to an amount like that little scrap pile on the right of the picture and there’s a hint of space left in your stomach, order cheesy rice or noodles to make you pop. Don’t worry, it’s a much smaller portion size. The rice is mixed with seaweed, bean sprouts, lettuce, cheese, a touch of sauce and the left over chewy bits from the hot plate.
Again, to me, this is the best dakgalbi shop. I don’t know if it’s because it was my first and I automatically associated that taste with the dish, but nowhere else makes their sauce as good as here. The staff are always friendly, it has floor and table seating and there are little aprons so you don’t get red flecks of sauce all over your clothes. Prepare to roll out of the restaurant. If you’re lucky enough to be in Wonju or Korea, test it out. Find recipes and fantasize if you’re not.
Happy eating – Chan and Bob